Nigeria to Launch Africa’s Largest AIDS Treatment Program
Nigeria on Sept. 1 will launch the largest antiretroviral HIV/AIDS treatment program in Africa, made possible after the Nigerian health minister negotiated a $350 per patient per year deal with generic AIDS drugmaker Cipla Ltd., the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The program will treat 10,000 adults and 5,000 children in Nigeria, only a "tiny fraction" of the 2.6 million HIV-positive citizens in the country, but nevertheless a good demonstration that African efforts are "underway to tackle the epidemic," Stephen Lewis, special envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said. He added, "It's a quite extraordinary intervention, a measure of the president's determination that they maintain the level of the pandemic where it is and try to turn it back. They recognize that if Nigeria fails, then much of Africa will fail." The Nigerian government will subsidize 80% of the cost of the drugs, but patients will have to pay between $7 and $8 per month for the treatment, Lewis noted. The drugs will be administered by Nigeria's teaching hospitals. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had warned at the U.N. General Assembly's Special Session on HIV/AIDS last month that "the prospect of extinction of the entire population of a continent looms larger and larger" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.